5-3 | Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships

Book Review

Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships

Dario Maestripieri
New York: Basic Books, 2012. Contents, images, notes, references, index. 302 pp. $27.99 cloth. ISBN: 9780465020782

by Kerrie Lewis Graham

First Paragraph:

I should first make one thing plain: Dario Maestripieri’s Games Primates Play is not a book about primate play behavior. In fact, the book mentions neither games nor playing—at least not in the sense of our collective pursuits as play researchers. Rather, it concerns human relationships and social currencies. Thus “games” refers to human politicking, cooperation, and social-behavioral quirks. Why do we avoid eye contact with other people in elevators? What does the length of an e-mail response indicate about rank and status? How might taking a colleague to lunch trump work ethic alone in determining whether or not you receive a promotion at work? What does your ability to recover from a lover’s tiff indicate about your rank in a romantic relationship? Maestripieri takes the reader on a journey through the social condition, using richly illustrative examples from other primate (and some nonprimate) species.